Region Council of Governments
2643 Gateway Drive #1, State College,
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Townships of College, Ferguson, Harris, Patton, and the Borough of
AQUATICS FEASIBILITY STUDY - PUBLIC FORUM
Aug 04, 7:30 PM, COG Building Forum Room
were thirty residents in attendance, including elected officials,
two school board members, swim team leaders and members, and
pool neighbors. Staff members Todd Roth, Diane Ishler, Ronald
Woodhead, and James Steff were also in attendance. The sign-in
roster is attached, plus an email is attached from a resident
that was not able to attend the forum.
Roth, CRPR Aquatic Supervisor, introduced Mr. Woodhead & Mrs.
Ishler, COG Executive Director James Steff, and Architect Alan
Popovich. Mr. Roth made a computerized presentation regarding
the history of the pools, community & facility needs, a
summary of the original Feasibility Study, and the Extended
Feasibility Study. It
was noted that the extended study provides recommendations
and options for action; any future progress will be pending
official authorization from the COG General Forum and the participating
meeting was then opened for questions and comments from the
Moore, State College Borough, likes Welch in the neighborhood
where her family has done their swimming for years. She is
glad to see the option of keeping the pool at least close
by (at the proposed Waupelani site). She doesn’t want
the pool to move out of the area. Also, she wanted to know
if there is going to be an option for a third pool in the
future due to population growth. Mr. Roth indicated that
may be in the future but the main goal right now to get the
two pools we have up to standards and increased capacity.
Steff, Executive Director COG, asked what the advantages
and disadvantages of building a third pool in a new location
would be. Mr. Roth indicated the biggest advantage would
be convenience; people like to have a neighborhood pool.
The disadvantages of a third pool would be the costs and
having enough qualified personnel. Mr. Woodhead added that
we need to upgrade Welch Pool (due to its age). If we build
a third pool, we would still have to deal with Welch Pool
and the related costs. The recommendation is that we “bite
the bullet” and do something about Welch Pool before
a third pool is considered.
Daubert, State College Borough Council, stated he has been
a season pass holder at Welch pool for 32 years and has visited
approximately 2,500 times but has found it overcrowded maybe
25 times. He doesn’t believe that overcrowding should
be an issue.
Carrello, College Township, has been taking her daughters
swimming at Welch and has never found it overcrowded.
Knauer, State College Borough Council, asked if a cost was
available for each of the options and would these costs be
included as part of the presentation to the elected officials
in Sept. Mr. Roth indicated that costs are not available
for all the options. Ms. Knauer then indicated that it would
be better when presented to have approximate costs for the
Antle, Harris Township and swim team parent, stated that
when she is there it is really crowded, especially when the
groups are there from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Baumer, State College Borough and lifeguard/instructor for
CRRA, stated that many day care centers and camps near Welch
come to swim there. When the groups are there, it is very
crowded; increased capacity is needed.
Farnsworth, Ferguson Township, likes have a local pool (Welch)
and wants to keep in the neighborhood. Wants to know if there
might be a problem acquiring the land on Waupelani mentioned
as an option. Her fear is that this option would be chosen
and then something would happen that the land would not be
available. Mr. Roth indicated the purchase would be additional
expense - but that no discussions have been held with the owners,
so the answer is not known. She also wanted to know if the
Welch pool site was moved to Waupelani Drive, would the current
site remain operational until the new site was open. Mr. Roth
indicated as long as the pool was operational it would remain
open until the new pool was open. However, if the Welch current
site was used there may be some time without Welch Pool (about
a month in one summer and one month in the next year) for construction.
Antle, Harris Township, stated that it looks like there would
be a lot more space at the Waupelani site.
Foard, Ferguson Township and swim team parent, talked about
the fact that swim teams have too many children to manage
effectively. She also indicated that Park Forest is too shaded
and that after 5:00 PM no one goes to the pool because it
is too cold. She is tickled to have something happening at
Park Forest - sometimes it feels like the poor relative of
Welch. She also expressed her opinion that deciding what
to do with Welch would have a great deal to do with what
the School District is doing since they have their own building
Boving, State College Borough, she is frustrated because
the process seems to be where it was two years ago and everyone
is still just talking about doing something. She collected
signatures before and can do it again. She agrees that the
pool needs to be renovated but does not want it moved out
of the neighborhood; Waupelani Drive would be fine. She also
indicated that when the process takes so long, you lose momentum.
She wanted to know if this meeting was going to be the only
opportunity for people to voice their opinion. Mr. Roth related
that this would be presented at the General Forum meeting
on Sept. 27. Mr. Steff answered that the General Forum was
one opportunity but the study would be sent out to the municipalities
for comment. That allows six more opportunities to voice
your comments (one at each municipal meeting).
Knauer, State College Borough, commented on the fact that
the study says that municipal contributions (for operations)
will go away because the pools will be self-supporting. He
wanted to know if there were projections showing this increase
in pool revenue and decrease in municipal contributions.
Mr. Roth indicated that the projections were in the first
study that was completed. Mr. Knauer asked was the revenue
from increased fees? Mr. Roth relayed that daily admissions
would not increase significantly but that pool passes would
increase. The increased revenue would be derived from increased
number of visits.
Moore, State College Borough, wondered what the impact of
the YMCA indoor pools on CRRA pools had been. Mr. Roth indicated
that the only effect had been the loss of the YMCA campers
daily admissions. She also wanted to know what was included
in the planning for senior programs. Mr. Roth stated that
some design features include zero depth entry, all day swim
lap lanes, and additional space for adult programs. More
programs are offered as people request them.
Baumer, Park Forest, asked if the all day swim lap lanes
were available, would some time be taken during the day to
provide other adult water programs? Mr. Roth indicated that
would depend on the requests received from adults.
question was asked as to what “future aquatics expansion” meant
(the areas identified on the concept plans for each site).
What type of expansion? Mr. Roth explained that they wanted
to design so that in the future other items could be added
depending on what people wanted. Some have expressed a desire
for a 50 meter pool, some would like to see a separate children’s
water splash area, eight lanes instead of six. When the master
plan is established and there are real cost numbers more
lanes may be added (only if it keeps project under the cost
Myers, Harris Township and swim team parent, related that
if you agree with the information presented, he sees only
two options: (1) to replace Welch on the current site with
larger pool or (2) to build the pool at another location.
When looking at the proposed time line - can Welch Pool last
that long. He asked what happens if Welch goes down - where
will that leave the community? Mr. Roth related that it was
discussed at the CRRA meeting and we would use the HS pool
as much as possible, but the idea is to work through the
necessary steps as quickly as possible.
Farnsworth, Harris Township, asked if there were any health
issues everyone should be aware of since on certain days
the water is cloudy. Mr. Roth said there are no health issues
relating to people swimming there, but if the State of Pennsylvania
tightens their standards (such as following the ASTM standards,
like many states around the country), it could get very complicated
for us to continue operations.
Knauer, State College Borough Council, following up on Jim’s
comments wondered if it was possible to rearrange the time
line for Welch since it is in bad shape. Is the Welch pool
in worse shape than the PF pool; shouldn’t it be fixed
first? Mr. Roth stated that the original proposal was to
have Welch first but there are two factors that changed that
thinking. The grant process needed for the projects only
has two windows of opportunity to apply for grants - fall
(planning, acquisition, and development grants) and spring
(planning and acquisition grants only). We wanted to start
the process as soon as possible and didn’t think we
could get the Welch options resolved in time to apply this
spring - but Park Forest might be ready to apply for a Master
Site Plan grant. Ms. Knauer indicated that when Mr. Roth
makes his presentation before COG in September and others
see the condition of the pool, the financial numbers are
less, and Welch is less controversial, maybe the time line
could be move up for Welch.
Boving, State College Borough, stated that there are two
options: rebuild Welch were it is or build it on the Waupelani
site (and not in some cornfield). Mr. Roth answered that
the Whitehall tract originally thought to be a good idea
is presently out of the picture and the Circleville tract
hasn’t contacted CRRA about this and little is known
about when and if that will happen. So we are proceeding
with the options we know.
Madore, College Township, told everyone that the people in
1957 were truly visionaries to have built a pool that has
lasted almost 50 years and served the community wonderfully.
This is our opportunity (elected officials, residents, young
or old) to be equally visionary. Now it needs replaced; not
because of the workmanship of the people who built it, but
because it is aging. We need to look positively at what we
can do to provide a facility that will last and will be an
asset to the community. Mr. Madore was a pool manager for
Welch in the 1980s and cannot believe that the pool is still
together and functioning. When he looks at the time line,
he wonders how Welch will last that long. He agrees that
Park Forest should go first, but is in favor of moving the
Welch time line ahead. It must be done faster. This is really
an opportunity to bring more people into recreational swimming
and to the sport of swimming.
Foard wanted to piggyback what Rick said. We are looking
at trying to play with the footprints of the pools we have
right now; community regional swimming activities areas.
When the pools were built they were probably built as a place
to go and get wet. After you added some new things to Park
Forest, maybe in a few years you will have the same crowding
problems that you now have at Welch. Maybe we should let
Park Forest as a rectangular pool and change Welch to new
site with bells and whistles. If you want to swim, you go
to Park Forest. If you are interested in the other activities,
you go to Welch. Maybe we need to be visionary. In other
parts of the state, where there is a large aquatics pool,
there are also other sports around it; basketball, baseball,
tennis, etc. Also, she indicated that the property on Waupelani
may have sink holes - the shopping center across the street
is on sink holes.
Baumer, Park Forest should go first so while Welch options
are being decided there will be somewhere to swim and still
have the aquatics activities. It is not the location, but
everyone coming together and having a place where that can
happen. The location should have adequate parking because
now there is a problem with parking. There are not enough
spaces and the school lots are busy with other things.
Boving - said that there is no issue with parking since school
is not in session when the pools are open. People can walk
to the pool or ride their bikes.
Baumer, Park Forest, indicated that parking is a problem
because there are a lot of activities in the summer including
band practice, sports teams, etc.
Antle, Harris Township, says she has to drive to the pool
since there is no safe way to bring her family (without a
car) to the pool from Boalsburg. Only small groups can walk
to the pool; most are driving so parking is an issue. It
should not keep the project from going forward, but it needs
to be recognized as a problem. Mr. Roth commented that there
are certain regulations for parking that must be met when
rebuilding unless given leeway from municipal codes. The
new design would take up all the parking spaces on site.
State College Borough has been very helpful in working with
us on the parking issue.
Daubert, State College Borough Council, related that the
Borough Council has never been officially contacted about
changing the parking requirements. Mr. Roth stated that there
has not been anything official, but the manager thought the
Council would be willing to work with CRRA on the parking
Schwoerer, Halfmoon Township, her children swim regularly
at Park Forest and has a daughter that works at the Park
Forest Pool. Her daughter has really bonded with the children
of that area while working at the pool. Ms. Schwoerer feels
this is very important and that it is really important that
we provide neighborhood pools where kids came come and bond.
She also realizes that there will be a large financial commitment
needed to go ahead with the pool plans. She thinks that it
should be done right; not just settle for something to get
it done. It is necessary to have the proper planning to get
the right facilities to meet the needs of the community.
Madore, College Township, reminded everyone that the Welch
pool is located on State College Area School District property
and that anything that is done there will require working
very closely with the School District. It will also take
working closely with the State College Borough for land use,
parking and the drainage problem that exist in that area.
Moore, State College Borough, pointed out that the pool staff
have been parking in the Welch lot creating some of the parking
problems. Mr. Roth indicated that staff were directed not
to park in the Welch lot.
Voigt, College Township, read from a paper he had prepared
(attached to this summary). He disagreed with the information
included in the Feasibility Study, including the new facility
paying for itself so municipalities would not have to help
pay to operate the pools, the population information, etc.
He wants the Welch pool to remain where it is, exactly as
it is and keep patching. It is only a three-month facility.
He also wants a place for the kids to come to learn how to
swim; he feels that is very important.
Dauler, State College Borough Council, explained what happened
at the Science Park Pool (Science Park Recreation Assn.)
after the sink hole opened and destroyed some of the pool.
They got kids together who go there and asked what they would
like to see at the pool. What they found was that the kids
and other patrons wanted it pretty much the way it had been.
They have expanded the pool by adding two more lap lanes
and the diving well had to be replaced. The shallow end has
stairs across one side so kids can be in one area and still
leave room for others to enter the water. It did not cost
nearly as much as the consultant are saying to fix Welch
pool. She wondered if we only used one consultant for both
studies? From what she read, she thought maybe the consultants
were connected to the people who would do the construction
work. Mr. Roth reminded everyone that the dollars quoted
in the study were best guess. The costs will not be known
until the Master Site Plan is developed and the project goes
out for bid. He also indicated that Science Park project
did not have to use prevailing wage and other regulations
that effect municipalities but not privately-held projects.
Mr. Steff explained how the Centre Region Council of Governments
purchases or selects contractors. All projects of this magnitude
must be placed on the open market for bid and then selected.
Mr. Roth noted that the SPRA Pool serves approximately 350
Humphrey, State College Borough Council and Liaison to CRRA,
found the comments interesting. He is very interested in
the land on Waupelani as an option for the pool. If that
land was developed it may cause problems for College Township
and the State College Borough, but putting the pool there
would act as green space protection (vs. residential development).
He had not heard that mentioned in this meeting.
Moore, State College Borough, said maybe an option should
be more basic even if the pool is moved. Has a basic larger
pool been considered? Mr. Roth related that yes this had
been considered, just a replacement pool with no amenities
- maybe with the hope to phase in later. Have the children
and all ages who use the pool been asked what they want?
Mr. Roth indicated this was done during the initial study
when a public survey was conducted in 1997. The entire original
study and the extension are posted on the CRPR website. Mr.
Roth had cards with his number and website information were
on the table. He asked people to email or let him know of
any additional comments.
Myers, Harris Township, just wanted to remind people that
this design is not the final, it could be changed. For him
if two items are met he will be happy: a zero depth entry
area and lots of space.
Daubert, State College Borough Council, relayed that when
this is presented to COG that an explanation of some of the
costs would be important. He wanted an explanation of the
dollar figure for Park Forest bathhouse. Why should it cost
so much? Mr. Popovich tried to explain that concrete, block
buildings with no roof are not acceptable to the public anymore.
That the structures have to met certain codes and they must
meet the needs of the patrons.
Ascah, State College Borough and School Board member, stated
that when the school board last talked about this project
(Sept. or Oct. 2003) there didn’t seem to be a problem
with a 25 year lease. He has never seen the North parking
lot full in the summer so he doesn’t think parking
is an issue. Although the paper said that the lease was on
the agenda for the school meeting, he doesn’t think
they are planning to do anything until CRRA comes back to
them requesting it. It is currently not on the agenda.
Moore thanked Mr. Roth for allowing everyone this time to
express their opinion and to talk to them about the Aquatic
Roth, Mr. Woodhead, and Mr. Steff thanked people for coming
out. The meeting ended at 9:20 PM.
Email from a resident who was unable to attend
Mr. Voigt’s prepared statement
Summary prepared by Diane Ishler, CRPR Admin. Assistant
- 31 Aug 04